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Friday, January 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

#1 - 2001 Box Office: Gross $317,575,550
Let The Magic Begin.
Chris Columbus's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone marks the first of what was to become an 8-film series based on J.K. Rowling's best-selling novels about a boy wizard.  It opens with baby Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) being dropped off at his Aunt and Uncle's house after his parents are killed by the evilest of all wizards, Lord Voldemort.  Fast forward to Harry's 11th birthday when he receives a letter inviting him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and other professors will teach him. While on the train to Hogwarts, Harry meets Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and the three fast become friends.  Together, they learn charms and spells while Harry is chosen to join the school's Quidditch team (think soccer on broomsticks).  As the year goes on, rumors spread that Voldemort may be returning to power, seeking the titular Sorcerer's Stone which guarantees the owner eternal life.  Will three young students be able to stop the most powerful dark wizard of all time? (HINT: this is the first of an 8-film series)

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • In the US it made $33.3 million on its opening day, breaking the single day record previously held by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. On its second day of release, the film gross increased to $33.5 million breaking the record for biggest single day again
  • The movie is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone everywhere except the USA so every scene in which the Philosopher's Stone was mentioned was filmed twice, once with the actors saying "Philosopher's" and once with the actors saying "Sorcerer's"
  • Among the portraits on the shifting staircase, you can clearly see a painting of Anne Boleyn (King Henry VIII's second wife, mother of Queen Elizabeth I), who was condemned to death as a witch
  • The last name Dumbledore means "Bumblebee" in Old English
  • The filmmakers attempted to go the extra mile of matching the kid's appearances to how the novel describes them, by fitting Daniel Radcliffe with green-colored contact lenses and making Emma Watson wear fake buck teeth. But when Dan's eyes reacted strongly to the contacts, and Emma couldn't talk clearly with the fake teeth in her mouth, these ideas were dropped
  • The only Harry Potter movie not to feature a variation of the Warner Bros. logo, although the film's theme is played over it as opposed to the original WB theme
"We've got to play our way across the room"
It's amazing to see Harry, Ron and Hermione so young!  These actors have spent over a decade growing up on the big screen before our very eyes, and luckily they've matured as actors over the past ten years.  The biggest problem with these early Potter films is the main trio of actors.  In their own movie, they might not seem as bad, but when put next to greats like Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, et al., you can really see them struggle to put any emotion behind their lines.  Despite this horrible acting, Columbus does present a decent world of magic; decent enough to get me to finally read the first novel.  I picked up the paperback late '99 and tried reading it, but was bored in the first few pages.  However, after I watched the DVD in the summer of '02, I finally had the motivation to dive back into the book and quickly read through the first four by the end of that year.  It's amazing what a phenomenon these novels have become, and I truly have Columbus's vision here to thank for getting me into it.  Unbelievably, a mere ten years later, I'm re-reading the entire series while counting down the months until the release of Deathly Hallows Part II  and secretly wishing I could visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and/or LeakyCon in Orlando.  Well, I guess not so secretly now...

Ponch's Rating:


  1. Whys is it called the Philosopher's stone everywhere else? Sorcerer doesn't translate?

  2. Strike that, reverse it...

    It's Philosopher everywhere but since that doesn't translate into US English, it was changed into Sorcerer here... Americans don't like philosophy apparently